ode to the untaken kiss

Maurice Kaehler
3 min readMar 29, 2024

I lay in Susan’s bed

Thinking of nothing

Then thinking of you.

A decade past,

We sit in a bar in Westwood.

Your eyes are all aglow.

And clear of the tule fog of Stockton.

You tell me you had Ecstasy

For the first time

In your sorority the night before.

Your eyes are all aglow.

You talk. I listen.

Not of changes.

More of something seen for the first time.

Your eyes are all aglow.

It was the last I saw of you.

It’s high school

You are dishwater blonde and bubbly.

Walk with a short stutter step.

Books always carried under arms

Crossed over your chest.

Brother above me a senior

Sister below you a freshman

You, Chuck and Sal, driving

Into the parking lot

In the black and white International Scout.

It seems as if you are with a new boy each week.

I have to crush you from afar

Not knowing what else to do

But encourage you to tryout for the school musical.

To be one of the Hot Box dancers

To my Benny Southstreet

I send you a carnation every Valentine’s Day.

I feel dirty. Diminished. Undeserving

Wondering why Sean Collins takes a liking to me.

The summer after graduation

I ask you out anyway.

To come with me, Matt and Simo

To Marriott’s Great America.

You do. Ride rides.

The only girl with three guys.

I’m unsure whether you are brave or naive.

Why you said yes to begin with.

All I know is that night when we drop you off

I walk you to the front door

Too scared to kiss you.



When is when?

How can I show?


What will happen after?

You’re too pretty.

I didn’t dream far enough.

Couldn’t dream far enough.

There. In front of but not.

I walk back to Matt and Simo

Sitting in Gary’s sky blue ’78 Monte Carlo

“Did you kiss her?”

Their anticipation for an answer scares me.

I am burning hot.

A failure to my own pitiful and profound sense of love.

I sit in the back seat

Filled with tortured bravado

Rendered speechless

By a vacuum of unfilled longing

In my own heart.

Too filled with failed hurt to lie

Too filled with failed embarrassment to say no.

I lay in Susan’s bed.

Your name is Susan.

She’s in the midst of chemo.

I had told her on Valentine’s Day

I needed some time apart.

She immediately went

And got her mammogram.

She tells me the doctors found a lump.

I have to stay.

I want to stay.

I will be the pole

Of light and energy

For her to circle around.

I lay is Susan’s bed


Returned from a day in Ojai.

I have to take a break.

Got no rest.

I haven’t thought of you

Since that night in Westwood

When I saw

Your clear and glowing eyes

Talking to me in a way I knew

That you had never talked

To anyone else before.

My thoughts of you come just as clear

My body floods with this soft gentle warmth.

There is a washout.

A washout.

A cleaning.

A dream.

The softest hum

I ever felt moving through my body.

As light as your steps in high school.

Sensitivity. Profound and common.

I stay thinking of you.

Not thinking of you.

Being with you.

Not being with you.

Your eyes all aglow.


It’s nice to see you again

Beyond that untaken kiss.



Maurice Kaehler

Comprehensivist, Writer, and Systems Thinker/Healer. My experience is my sutra and my body is my prayer.